RPW Column: CVD Was “Balls To The Wall!” Opens PA Tri-Track & Thunder On The Hill Series With Big Win

Column By: TOM WENNER / RPW – BECHTELSVILLE, PA – Craig Von Dohren is opening the ’22 season at the Grandview Speedway in a dominating fashion.

Von Dohren swept the Memorial Holiday weekend at Grandview by winning both events. Craig has won every single event at Grandview this season except for 1, which was won by Brett Kressley when Craig sustained a flat tire late in the event. Sunday’s Thunder On The Hill victory was the 6th of the season for CVD at Grandview.

The format for the Thunder On The Hill Balls To The Wall 50 had the field racing to lap 30. The top 4 cars would be inverted and then back to racing to lap 40. Another 4 car invert and then all out racing to the final 50 lap. The leader of laps 30 and 40 would be paid $1500. The winner at lap 50 = $5000.

Cory Merkel and Duane Howard led the 24 car field to the green flag.

Cory Merkel sped to an early lead at the drop of the green flag. On lap 2, Duane Howard took control of the race with Timmy Buckwalter, Merkel, Jesse Leiby, and Rick Laubach in tow.

On lap 3 Brian Hirthler retired the 4* to the pits

At the 5 down mark Duane Howard was showing speed and breaking from the pack. Buckwalter settled into the 2nd spot, Leiby, Laubach, Merkel, Lisowski, and Von Dohren.

The race pace was continuing at a quick pace. At Lap 10 Howard continued to set a solid pace out front and was not being challenged. Buckwalter remained in 2nd, Leiby was now 3rd, Laubach 4th, Lisowski in 5th. By Lap 12 Duane Howard was approaching the lap traffic with a half straightaway lead.

On Lap 14, The yellow lights were displayed. Mike Lisowski stopped with smoke coming from the 15. Kyle Lillick and Brad Brightbill retired from the event during this caution. Jeff Strunk was making an all-out run to the front. Strunk had to qualify in the consolation race and started 22nd, He was now in 10th spot.

With the field bunched up and reset for racing Duane Howard and Timmy Buckwalter were the front row for the lap 15 restart. Kevin Hirthler and Jesse Leiby were the 2nd row and Craig Von Dohren was now in 5th spot.

The field heads back to green with Duane Howard displaying some power out front. At the lap 20 mark Howard is leader, Buckwalter, Hirthler, Von Dohren and Brett Kressley is cracking the Top 5 now with Jeff Strunk in 6th.

As the field hits lap 22 – Kevin Hirthler and Craig Von Dohren are waging a war for 3rd and 4th side by side. Brett Kressley and Jeff Strunk are coming in a hurry. Laps 22 and 23 see all of the them side by side Hirther and Von Dohren and Kressley and Strunk side by side. The fans were treated to some of the best driving among these 4 PA Modified titans.

At lap 26 Duane Howard controlled the point, Buckwalter was comfortable in 2nd, Strunk motored by the 4 for 3rd, Kevin Hirthler was 4th, Craig Von Dohren 5th and Brett Kressley 6th.

On lap 30 the caution lights were turned on for the 1st invert. Duane Howard was $1500 richer for the segment win.

Kevin Hirthler is moved to the point, Jeff Strunk is moved to 2nd, Timmy Buckwalter slides back to 3rd and Duane Howard goes to 4th. Craig Von Dohren is 5th and Brett Kressley is 6th.

The field get back to racing and Kevin Hirthler takes command of the race. Hirthler showing some speed in the Pioneer Pole Building #117 speeds out front to the lead. Strunk following with Von Dohren moving to 3rd, Buckwalter back to 4th, Howard in 4th, Kressley in 5th and Billy Pauch Jr. entering the mix as the race hits lap 37.

On Lap 39 Brett Kressley suffers a Left Front Tire Flat and continues on.

Lap 40, The caution lights are turned back on for invert #2 – Kevin Hirthler scores the $1500 pay day. Jeff Strunk is 2nd, Craig Von Dohren 3rd, Timmy Buckwalter 4th, and Billy Pauch Jr. is now 5th as Brett Kressley takes the 19k to pits. During this caution, Tanner VanDoren pulls the #22 off the backstretch with rear end damage.

The final invert occurs – Timmy Buckwalter goes to the point, Craig Von Dohren moves to 2nd, Jeff Strunk is 3rd, and Kevin Hirthler moves to 4th, Duane Howard is 5th, Billy Pauch Jr. 6th, Rick Laubach 7th, Louden Reimert 8th, Ryan Watt 9th, Jesse Leiby 10th.

The final 10 laps and $5000 to win are in place – The field heads back to green and Craig Von Dohren powers to the lead. Timmy Buckwalter follows in 2nd, Jeff Strunk 3rd, Kevin Hirthler 4th, and Duane Howard 5th.

At the 5 to go mark Craig Von Dohren was breaking away from the field in strong fashion. Buckwalter, Strunk, Hirthler, Howard and Pauch, Reimert, Laubach and Watt in tow.

On lap 48 Duane Howard retired from the event while running in 5th spot.

Craig Von Dohren was not challenged over the final 2 laps and claimed the $5000 Pioneer Pole Buildings Thunder On The Hill Balls To The Wall Victory. Timmy Buckwalter 2nd, Jeff Strunk 3rd, Kevin Hirthler 4th, Billy Pauch Jr. 5th, Loudon Reimert 6th, Rick Laubach 7th, Ryan Watt 8th, Jesse Leiby 9th, and 10th Anthony Tramontana.

Craig shared that they used the backup car for the event which was last years championship car. Craig thanked Bruce Brueche and the entire Brueche 30 crew in victory lane. Craig also thanked Pioneer Pole Buildings and Metal Roofing for their support of the Thunder On The Hill event. CVD earned $5250 for the win.

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